The Lamp always sat on top of the Desk and it made the Wardrobe incredibly jealous. The way she oozed heat onto him. The Wardrobe knew it was because the Lamp thought the Desk was “wise”. She told him every day. She said the Desk made her shine brighter. Told the Wardrobe he was made of cheap wood. Told him he probably couldn’t handle her heat if he wanted to. The Wardrobe was older than the Desk; his skin splintered and his innards were a bit disheveled. He was a bit of a fire waiting to happen. Though, to be fair, the whole room was picking up dust. They all lived in an attic that had been fashioned into a guest bedroom. Apparently, the owners of the home were not too fond of guests.
The group of furniture was not stupid. They knew downstairs they had all sorts of fancy Cutlery hoarded in upper class China Cabinets. China Cabinets were always so arrogant. The Cutlery did nothing. Everybody knew the Tea Cups were a bunch of whores. Tea Cups were always around, but they never got used, at least not here in the States. They often became restless and reliant on social games to feel useful. The Wardrobe always told the Desk and the Lamp that he was beyond glad that he wasn’t fashioned into a China Cabinet, but the Desk was usually too busy pending on some conundrum and the Lamp was far too busy clinging to the Desk. The Wardrobe did have a good friend in the Guest Bed, but the Guest Bed was always asleep, or simply too comforting, like a mother. The Wardrobe never could tell if the Guest Bed was just being kind or meant what she said. The Guest Bed was even older than the Wardrobe and hummed old songs a lot. Love songs. She told the other’s funny stories about the golden age, how guests in the house used to try to quietly do things to each other. How they whispered, and how they probably wouldn’t have been so bold had they known she heard every quiet moan that they tried to hold in.
There was a Window in the room. Positioned at the window a Telescope, but he never spoke a word. He just stared, longingly, at the world outside.
The Guest Bed and the Wardrobe went way back. The Guest Bed was like a mother to him. She saw him through the hard times. The Wardrobe used to have a love, you see. The Candlestick. Ages ago, the Guest Bed and the Wardrobe would tell you. But they were definitely and madly in love with each other. The Candlestick was humble and she had that flicker about her that drove the Wardrobe mad. They talked for countless days without stop. There wasn’t much to do, but they were lost in each other and the Guest Bed saw the whole thing. Downstairs, in the master bedroom, they were the envy of the rest of the house. The Wardrobe was filled with the most astonishing of suits beyond organized. They were alphabetized by designer, cross-categorized by stitch and color. Navy blues separated from dark blues. The Candle loved him because he was such a gentleman.
They knew from the start that the Candlestick had a dwindling battle with death. Each day they spent together she grew closer and closer. I love you, the Wardrobe would say, you look so beautiful, especially in the darkness. Do you not see how this flame you adore so much is bringing me closer to the end of my days, said the Candlestick.
She began to drip on him, more and more each day. The scars still remain; puddles of wax like drops of blood that stained his skin.
One day, the Wardrobe awoke to the sound of the Guest Bed screaming. An earthquake. The room filled with trepidation. The tremors scooted the Guest Bed, who was the Master Bed then, around the floor, like a dog on ice. The Windows screamed like a banshee. The Wardrobe called to the Candlestick his love, above his head, but she did not respond. In a flash, the shaking room, began filling with smoke. You’re on fire, said the Master Bed. The Wardrobe felt as if he was having a stroke. He called out to the Candle, but he didn’t even hear a flicker. Strange red and yellow men rushed in and put out the Wardrobe. The room fell as silent as a wake. The Master Bed said to the Wardrobe, the Candlestick, she’s dead.
Wardrobe was beyond shaken. For days he said nothing. His head charred and scarred, remnant wax of his love still remaining. The ceiling received third degree burns all over its skin too, and though the ceiling never spoke, it spoke to the Wardrobe in other ways.
A family came into the Master Bedroom. Stepping on the Carpet, lying down on the entry way they looked around at the Paintings, the Master Bed, the Ottoman and finally they rested their eyes, stared directly at the Wardrobe, and he stared back.
“It’s ruined,” they said, “It’s ugly,” the Wardrobe felt as if he could cry.
They put him in isolation. The attic was sparkling then, yes, but he was beyond alone up there. No Ottoman, no Painting, they hadn’t even put in the Window at that point yet. The House was new, he hadn’t even Rats running through his veins yet. The Wardrobe was separated from the ones he loved, stationary and unwanted. For a night, he cried. The Walls were there, but they could not see him, they could not hear him, they could not tell him that in the end everything would be okay. The blind, deaf, mute Walls might as well have not been there.
It was then the world weighed down on the Wardrobe and its hanger bar buckled and snapped. The suits were gone, his friends were gone, the love of his life, gone. He didn’t rest one minute that night alone in the attic.
The next morning, sounds of jilted heavy steps filtered in from the stairway. They brought up a frame and a box spring, a mattress and a comforter, all the pieces and they assembled them. The sun shining through the cracks of the attic, the Wardrobe had been reunited with the Master Bed.
Now, the Guest Bed.
Won’t you miss it down there, asked the Wardrobe.
No, you’re up here, said the Guest Bed, in that comforting way she did.
Over time, others joined forming the guest bedroom it had become. The Desk, quoting Nietzsche, like no one had ever quoted Nietzsche before. The quiet telescope, staring and staring at the new window. The young Lamp. She reminded the Wardrobe of the Candlestick and the day they set her in the room, he thought maybe, just maybe, she could fill the emptiness within.
She burned bright, yes she was younger, but time is such a fleeting thing, and opportunity even more fleeting. The Wardrobe made her laugh. The Guest Bed saw the way his frame over the years leaned more and more her direction, but the Guest Bed saw the way the Lamp stuck by that Desk’s side. The Guest Bed had always been alone. She was gorgeous, yes. The dresses that wrapped her were the most beautiful and detailed you’d ever see but she was a Queen. Men feared her size and knew they would look small beside her. She had nothing to give but comfort, warmth and patience, but sadly it was strange couples who only took her up on her offers.
Someone ascended the stairs. Strange men filtered in. Stared at the Wardrobe, and taller than them both, he stared back.
“That’s the one,” they said, and they pulled him downstairs, carelessly, his sides scraping, scratching the walls, his charred head bumping the ceiling. A woman followed, grabbed the Lamp like a trophy. The Wardrobe was in pain, but he saw the Lamp, thrown in a bin, with other small items. But they continued outward with him.
The strange men threw him in the street. He shattered into pieces of wood. Bones breaking. They liberally poured kerosene on him like they were drowning something out. The strange man took a Match, those poor short-lived beings, and he scraped its head against the ground. The Wardrobe tried to relax. The man threw the Match, burning bright, into the mess that was the Wardrobe. The Wardrobe tried to relax. He could feel fire. He could feel his memories of the Candlestick, burning inside of him. In his last breath, he could do nothing but burn.
Upstairs, in the attic, the telescope saw it all, but he could not say a word. The Guest Bed and the Desk knew what was happening.
Wardrobe, said the Desk, he’s in Hell out there.
No, said the Guest Bed, it is us who are in Hell.
COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2012
READ “WENDOVER, UTAH”, A POEM